NC legislature– saving us from tyranny

Good to know that NC’s Republicans are taking a stand on the evils of expecting everybody to have a background check before buying a gun and other such steps on the road to serfdom and tyranny:

RALEIGH, N.C. — On a party-line vote, the House Rules Committee on Tuesday approved a resolution opposing any push for more gun control at the federal level.

House Resolution 63, sponsored by freshman Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, says (as amended) “The House of Representatives expresses support of the constitutional right of the people of this State to keep and bear arms and opposes any infringement by the federal government of the right of the people of this State to keep and bear arms.”

“We right now have an out-of-control federal government,” Speciale told the committee.  “We here in the North Carolina General Assembly are the last bastion of hope [emphasis mine] between citizens and an ever-encroaching federal government.”

“Last bastion of hope”?!  Good, God– get a grip.  What an embarrassment this legislature is.

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Income inequality

The very cool video I linked to the other day was about wealth inequality.  In many ways, I think income inequality is even more of a concern (if the rich have simply inherited a lot of wealth, it’s not as big of a problem if ordinary folks can catch up– but ordinary folks incomes are falling behind).  And it’s not like the picture there is a lot better.  Since it’s Spring Break, I’m trying to close some long open tabs in my browser, and somehow, despite it’s really short length, I had never read this excellent Jonathan Rauch piece summarizing the key problems.  This chart mostly say it all:

Infographic

And here’s the nice conclusion:

In the 1970s, supply-siders argued that tax rates had become high enough to choke off growth and destabilize the economy. Today’s rethink makes the same kind of case against inequality. “Some inequality is a good thing in terms of establishing incentives to pursue arduous career paths,” economist Brown conceded in an interview. “But it’s been taken to such an extreme that it has become a major economic problem and a huge social problem.”

With the arguable exception of Stiglitz, the new macro-egalitarians are modest in their claims. Most acknowledge that much work needs to be done to tease out cause and effect. Most also reject remedies that rely on aggressive redistribution. Instead, they emphasize measures, such as better education and training, that attempt to raise the bottom and middle rather than to bring down the top. In comparison with many of the supply-siders, these guys are recklessly responsible.

At a minimum, however, they have found smoke, and there has certainly been a fire. The era when Washington economists and politicians could dismiss inequality as a second- or third-tier issue may be ending. And progressives, potentially, have a case against inequality that might put accusations of “class warfare” and “politics of envy” behind them.

I think that “too much of a good thing” is a really great point.  Of course, to have well-functioning capitalism, you are going to need a certain amount of economic inequality.  Nobody denies that.  But we’re far, far, beyond that point.  To have a healthy swimming pool, you need to add chlorine to kill germs.  If America is a swimming pool, we’ve got so much chlorine, we’re not just killing germs in the water, but people too.

Photo of the day

You might have heard that Siberia is cold.  In Focus has the photos to prove it:

A man walks through a tunnel formed by ice crystals from surrounding permafrost, outside the village of Tomtor in the Oymyakon valley in northeast Russia, on January 28, 2013. The coldest temperatures in the northern hemisphere since the beginning of the 20th century were recorded in the Oymyakon valley, known as the northern “Pole of Cold”, reaching a temperature of -67.8 degrees Celsius (-90 degrees Fahrenheit) in 1933. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

Corporate profits

Really nice chart-heavy post from Derek Thompson about corporate profits and how the rest of the country is not actually benefiting at all.  I like this long-term chart the best:

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 12.35.48 PM.png

And Thompson’s take:

Taken together, these graphs don’t tell us that corporations have utterly decoupled from the economy. When the economy crashes, we all crash together: corporate profits, employment, and growth. But when the economy recovers, we don’t recover together. Corporations rack up historic profits thanks to strong global demand, cheap global labor, and low interest rates, while American workers muddle along, their significance to these companies greatly diminished by a worldwide market for goods and people.

A growing economy and lower unemployment should eventually give U.S. workers a long-deserved raise (and so should rising labor costs overseas that persuade more companies to hire domestically). But improvements in technology and the ability of companies to hire locally as they chase worldwide demand are just two factors that should restrain any optimism we can keep corporate profits from gobbling up more and more of the economy. Workers still need help — and they certainly won’t find it in the sequester.

Not a lot of answers in here.  But more of the same certainly is not it.

Republican Party as a little kid playing a board game

Really interesting (longer, but totally worth it) post from Ezra on how the Republicans just cannot agree with Obama no matter what.  Ezra argued that Republicans just needed to understand Obama’s actual positions.  Chait said, no way, they’ll never agree and just keep making stupid reasons not to.  This post is Ezra admitting he was wrong and Chait was right by following a series of tweets of a Republican strategist.  Every damn thing the man says is wrong, and when it’s pointed out to him, he just keeps on saying, but, but, the thing is…  Totally reminds me of a little kid playing a board game and changing the rules every time he finds out he’s losing.  On some level they just cannot process that they are losing the game so they just keep on making things up that they’re not.  Fine for a 4-year old playing Chutes and Ladders.  Not so great for trying to run a country.  A little bit from Ezra:

But it’s unpopular for Republicans to simply say they won’t agree to any compromise and there’s no deal to be had — particularly since taxing the wealthy is more popular than cutting entitlements, and so their position is less popular than Obama’s. That’s made it important for Republicans to prove that it’s the president who is somehow holding up a deal.

This had led to a lot of Republicans fanning out to explain what the president should be offering if he was serious about making a deal. Then, when it turns out that the president did offer those items, there’s more furious hand-waving about how no, actually, this is what the president needs to offer to make a deal. Then, when it turns out he’s offered most of that, too, the hand-waving stops and the truth comes out: Republicans won’t make a deal that includes further taxes, they just want to get the White House to implement their agenda in return for nothing. Luckily for them, most of the time, the conversation doesn’t get that far, and the initial comments that the president needs to “get serious” on entitlements is met with sage nods.

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